Alan Coleman, veteran TV producer, writer and director, has died at the age of 76.
English-born Coleman started his career as an actor but later moved behind the cameras, eventually becoming director of Britain’s first daily drama series, Crossroads, in the 1960s. It was a series that pioneered the rapid-fire production schedule that is commonplace for similar dramas today.
He was Head of Children’s Drama for ITV affiliate ATV in the 1970s when he was recruited by producer Reg Grundy to help build his fledgling drama empire in Australia. Coleman’s first project for Grundy was the school drama Class Of ’74, leading to Class Of ’75 and later Glenview High in 1977 — all for the Seven Network.
He was a producer for Grundy’s long-running series The Young Doctors, which ran for six years on the Nine Network, and also worked on Prisoner, Punishment, Neighbours and Home And Away before returning to the UK to produce Family Affairs.
He was also involved in overseas productions for Grundy including Goede tijden, slechte tijden (the Dutch adaptation of former Australian drama The Restless Years), German series Unter Uns and launching New Zealand’s first nightly drama, Shortland Street, in 1992.
He was a director for production company McElroy Television in the early 2000s, working on Above The Law for Network Ten, and SBS productions Going Home and Twenty4Seven — the latter two being pioneering ventures for their use of online interaction with viewers (before social media) and for the rapid turnaround of devising storylines, script writing and taping to incorporate stories and dialogue based on real-time events.
Apart from his work on television dramas Coleman also produced commercials, educational programs and corporate videos through his own company, Wyee Productions, based in New South Wales.
In 2008 he provided audio commentary for the DVD release of The Young Doctors, and in 2010 was appointed Honorary President of ATV for its 55th anniversary as a tribute to his pioneering work in the production of drama.
Coleman was the first to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame for the Aussie Soap Awards, organised by British website The Soap Show.